The age of the seminarian


What is the youngest age for a gentleman to be a seminarian to study for the priesthood?


I’m guessing he would need to be a “legal adult”, which in most states in the US is age 18.


Minor seminary at 17 or 18 in the United States. You need a high school degree or GED.




Please explain the minor seminary.


Minor seminary is the equivalent of an undergraduate (Bachelors) degree. Majory seminary (or “theologate”) is the equivalent of a graduate (usually M.Div.) degree. Thus, after high school, the total education is 8 years. In some dioceses, such as mine, there is also a “pastoral year,” generally after 2 years of major seminary, in which a seminarian works fulltime as a pastoral associate in a parish before returning to school. So, from start to finish in our diocese, it takes 9 years.

The exception would be for SOME people who already have a bachelors or masters degree. Depending on what the coursework has been, they may get credit for one or more years toward training for the priesthood.


Strictly speaking there is no minimum age to enter a seminary. In some countries, seminarians start as young as 16 (although the course there is considerably longer and essentially merges into high school). However the Code of Canon Law (can. 1031) sets the minimum age for ordination as a transitional deacon at 23 and as a priest at 25. while exceptions can be granted, from what I’m told, they are very rare. Obviously it’s just as rare for a seminarian to be that young especially as entrance straight from school is more of the exception these days than the norm.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit